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How TTCBC dropped the ball
A sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 was at the Queen’s Park Oval on Saturday to see T&T’s Red Force score a resounding victory over Guyana in the final match played here in the Caribbean T20.
Judging by the numbers, the event was a success.
To draw such huge crowds in the midst of the Carnival season, when patrons in search of high-energy entertainment have the options of all-inclusives and other festival events, means that cricket, particularly the shortest form of the game, has a strong fan base.
It is also significant that fans turned out in droves for the games even though they were aired live on ESPN Caribbean—broadcast partner of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
This is not always the case for local sports events. However, in the case of Saturday’s game, a definite crowd-puller would have been the fact that it was a top-of-the-table clash featuring several members of the West Indies team which won the ICC World T20 championship last year. That must have been a major reason why tickets were sold out more than a day before that double-header.
Overall, attendance was good throughout the Trinidad phase of the tournament, particularly for games involving T&T.
Now its on to the Beausejour Cricket Ground in St Lucia for the second part of the preliminary round, the play-offs and the final. Expectations are high that these games will also draw huge crowds.
The T&T Cricket Board of Control (TTCBC) and the WICB must be commended for staging what has been so far a well patronised Caribbean T20.
However, the event cannot be declared an unqualified success.
For one thing, pricing tickets at $40 for all stands may have been a successful strategy from the standpoint of the low cost, attracting the large audiences at one of the liveliest cricket venues in the region.
At that price, however, it would have been virtually impossible to collect any real revenue, even at the Oval, which has a seating capacity of 25,000.
If the same strategy is being employed at Beausejour, which can hold 15,000 fans, profits may not be realised from this venture.
Would it not have made more sense to put more effort into the marketing of the event and use a more realistic pricing structure to achieve not only crowd support, but also profits, which can be ploughed back into much needed development of the sport?
After all, sponsorship, particularly for these big-ticket sporting events, is not as easy to come by these days as it was in the glory days of West Indies cricket.
Apart from the short-sighted marketing approach, the TTCBC’s handling of this T20 series indicates that officials of that sporting body are not on the same page with Government on the issue of developing sports tourism.
In that regard, the Caribbean T20 was a lost opportunity to explore the full potential of T&T which, with the number and quality of sporting venues available here, has a potential competitive advantage in the area of sports tourism.
The T&T sector of the T20 was a chance to test out marketing strategies that could later be applied to the hosting of international sports events.
Since the games went out worldwide via ESPN, organisers could have seized the opportunity to reach out to international sportsmen and women and their fans who might be interested in coming to T&T for training, or for competitive events.
As it turned out, T&T’s cricket administrators dropped the ball with this one.
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